Love snow, can't stand ice. The pattern which produces an icy mess we identified a little more than a week ago and here it is.
When dealing with arctic air, remember our rules? It's stronger than models predict and arrives faster than models predict. This happens 99 out of 100 times. Could this be the 1 it doesn't? Maybe.
There are a few things going on which make this a very complex situation. The cold air will slowly move into the area, especially on a northeast wind around the Ozarks. At the same, time, there is a warm, moist flow loaded with moisture coming from the southwest. With that on top of arctic air means trouble and all forms of precipitation becomes likely across the state. What you receive will all depend on the depth of the cold air and of course, surface temperature.
While there will be some wintry weather Monday across northern Arkansas. Let's watch Tuesday, especially the afternoon. The GFS interpretation has freezing rain in pink, sleet in orange, and snow in blue. Again, it's a model and NOT a forecast. the depth of the cold air determines which precip type you get.
GFS temperatures. NOT much margin for error, BUT it is at or below freezing for much of northern Arkansas. The danger here is that the air is colder further south as the NAM depicts.
The NAM typically does a better job handling arctic air. It's interpretation for late Tuesday. Again, NOT not a forecast. It's a model
As I said, temperature means EVERYTHING when it comes to ice. You can have freezing rain at 32° and the impacts change greatly if it's only a few degrees colder.
Impacts from the NWS. Notice eastern AR will have greater impacts. I suspect this minor to moderate impacts will expand in future outlooks.
This of course can still change. If there's an adjustment, it's further south. But we'll see.
The chance for significant snow is increasing late Tuesday into early Wednesday. If you've been following on the blog or social, the last week of this month is what we have been highlighting for winter to return. If you think this is the last chance this season, I disagree. More threats for wintry weather in the long range, but let's look at what is directly in front of us now.
The track of the low is classic for winter weather in Arkansas. However, a track further south increases the chance and a track further north pushes the snow into the far corner of NW AR.
Temperatures will be marginal so this snow will be like mashed potatoes. It will be heavy, wet snow
The greatest chance will be the northwest 1/2 of the state, but can change depending on track
I expect a winter storm warning for northern Arkansas
Since temperatures will hover around freezing, once the snow ends, melting will be fast, especially on the roads.
Central Arkansas is a close call for any snow amounts, but flakes should fly.
Could this be a situation where snow adds up in the higher elevations of west Little Rock and western Pulaski county with little to no snow towards downtown and the airport? Possibly.
Let's go to the model guidance.
The chance for at least 1'' of snow is VERY high for much of the northwest 1/2 of Arkansas.
The chance for at least 3'' of snow is very high for the higher elevations of the Ozarks and Ouchita's. Notice the chance lower in the Arkansas River Valley. The chance is still there, but lower compared to the higher elevations.
The chance for at least 6'' of snow is elevated for the northern and western mountains. Moisture with this system is not in question!
Model amounts, NOT a forecast. The "+" could end up being 6'' or a little more on the highest peaks ACCORDING TO THE MODEL
Our preliminary snow outlook. If this is wrong, blame James. He made it. LOL. Just kidding James, no, but seriously.
Meteorologist James Bryant has a fantastic Twitter threat about the entire event.
The last week of January! We have been hitting on this time period for at least 2 weeks now for the return of winter. Now that we're getting closer, we see a potential storm system interacting with the colder air. If that happens, there will be a chance for snow for portions of the state. As I always say, NOTHING is guaranteed in weather until it happens.
Let's watch next Tuesday/Wednesday. The operational GFS is not aggressive with this feature, but the Euro ensembles and Canadian ensembles are and that gets my attention! How much? WAY TOO EARLY! Where? WAY TOO EARLY, but I will say this may not be confined only to the northern mountains due to the track of the low. Let's dive into the details.
Euro ensemble shows a good chance for at least 1'' of snow for much of western, northern, central, and northeastern Arkansas. This is calculating the chance from 51 runs of a model with each ensemble member having slight variations.
The Canadian ensemble looks fairly similar
The GFS ensemble not as aggressive, but still shows the snow
The track of the low from the Weather Prediction Center. A low tracking south and east of the state is favorable for snow in Arkansas.
What could go wrong?
If the track changes, snow chance may increase or decrease. How much cold air will be drawn into the system to produce wintry weather? How strong will the upper level system be as it moves through the region? Strong lift can cool the atmosphere further which would be favorable. Weaker, not favorable.
Assuming it does happen, this is a fast moving system which may limit amounts PLUS, once it leaves, temperatures will QUICKLY rebound above freezing. This would limit the time of any accumulation.
Many things can go right and many things could go wrong, but there is a chance next week and it's greater than average. We'll give you the newest info.